FARMINGTON HILLS — The faces seemingly floated out on the ice, peeking out from underneath fluffy hats and winter headbands. The colorful sweatshirts and ubiquitous black skating pants dotted the crowded ice dance floor.
The women and girls didn’t just skate. They twirled and jumped, danced and swooped.
“What don’t I love about coming here?” Farmington Hills resident Chris Walker, 64, remarked about her home ice-skating spot, the Farmington Hills Ice Arena, 35500 W. Eight Mile Road.
“I love everything about coming here,” Walker said, taking a break in between skating sessions Oct. 30.
The passion she has for the ice arena is the same undeniable feeling she has for the ice itself.
“I have always loved the ice,” she said. “I love getting out there and even taking that first breath of cold air; I can feel the day just roll off of my arms.”
The third-grade Forest Elementary School teacher is one of many who skate at the 70,000-square-foot arena she described as a “happy place to be.”
Since opening in 1995, the arena has been a happy place for people to play hockey, skate recreationally and take skating lessons.
The ice arena has 36 classes, plus ice-skating clubs, hockey teams and more, Co-Director Liz LaBurn said.
“There is a lot going on at this rink,” she said. “We try to keep them (skaters) smiling.”
Co-director Barb Miller agreed.
“I think it is important for the community to offer programs for the kids to have something to do after school,” she said. “It is amazing how many adults are taking up this sport. I think there are a lot of adults taking it up for the exercise. They are enjoying it.”
North Farmington High School student Kara McGlashan, 16, said she doesn’t know where she would be today if it weren’t for the skating classes she took at the ice arena.
“I really like how you can watch yourself grow over the years,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for so long that I can’t really picture myself doing something other than skating.”
McGlashan, who is a part of the community high school figure-skating team, United Farmington Figure Skating, said she ice skates often, and she enjoys her time at the arena.
“She is great. She does a lot here,” LaBurn said of McGlashan.
The two-rink arena gives residents and the roughly 100 ice arena members a chance to show their moves.
Miller said the neighborhood ice arena has served the community well.
“I think when we did the last open house, everybody was so happy with how friendly everybody was,” Miller said. “They enjoyed the open house because they said, ‘I never would have thought to sign up my kids for the open-skating classes, but it is nice to have the opportunity to try this.’ And they loved it. Now, they are signing up for the classes.”
She said that in some areas, people have a 45-minute travel time just to skate at a rink.
“Here, there is a rink every 10 minutes, almost,” she said. “(Ice skating) is just a popular sport in Michigan.”
LaBurn said the main goal of this ice arena is to improve the learn-to-skate program, and offer quality programming and quality instructors for the community.
“(We want) to let the schools know what we are offering and the community know that we have good quality programs and clubs.”
For more information on the Farmington Hills Ice Arena, go to www.ci.farmington-hills.mi.us or call (248) 478-8800.
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